Cover of Night Nurse no. 4.


Medium: Comic Books
Published by: Marvel Comics
First Appeared: 1961, or 1972
Creators: Stan Lee and Al Hartley, or Jean Thomas and Winslow Mortimer
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Night Nurse was just another Marvel comic book about a young woman on the job in a traditionally female field. Tessie the Typist, Millie the Model, Sherry the Showgirl … they published a lot of …

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… 'em over the years. But this one came long after that minor genre's heyday — it wasn't published until 1972, by which time American comic books, particularly Marvel's, had shifted away from practically every market niche except adolescent males. In such a testosterone-charged environment, this "gurrrl" comic quickly achieved notoriety second only to DC's Brother Power the Geek, as entertainment suitable only for dweebs.

And yet, there was nothing wrong with the stories, by Jean Thomas (wife of comics writer and editor Roy Thomas), or the art, by Winslow Mortimer (who has extensive credits in comics, including co-creating Stanley & His Monster). They concerned the adventures of Linda Carter, R.N. (before actress Lynda Carter became famous for her portrayal of Wonder Woman, of course), and her roommates and co-workers on the hospital's night shift, Georgia Jenkins and Christine Palmer.

And the adventures got pretty hair-raising, too — bomb threats, serial killers and the like. In fact, the cover blurb, right from the start, said "Enter the world of danger, drama and death!" They even dabbled in gothic horror, complete with mostly-unlit mansion; shadowy, threatening figure; and crumbling cliff's edge.

But Marvel's audience would have none of it. The comic lasted four issues — November, 1972 through May, 1973. There were no spin-offs, no licensed merchandise, not even a revival of the main character in other series, years afterward (tho lately, Christine has been keeping company with The X-Men's Nightcrawler). Much later, Marvel published a "blooper" book, and put Night Nurse on the cover — what could we have been thinking? they seemed to say.

By the way, from September, 1961 to January, 1963, Marvel published a comic called Linda Carter, Student Nurse (a contemporary of a better known comic book student nurse, Linda Lark). It was written by Stan Lee (Daredevil, Doctor Strange) and drawn by Al Hartley (Barney Bear, Della Vision). There is no indication that the protagonist of Night Nurse is the same Linda Carter at a later stage of her life, and at least one reason — hair color (Student's hair is black; Night's is blonde) — to think she isn't. But women have changed their hair color before, so it's still possible — and considering how inter-related Marvel comics tend to be, especially when Roy Thomas (Liberty Legion, All-Star Squadron) is in the vicinity, it actually seems quite likely.

Today, interest in Night Nurse is as high as ever. That is, mention of the title in a room full of Marvel comics readers will elicit a chorus of snickers (mostly from people who have never read it). With name recognition like that, one would think Marvel would want to cash in on the notoriety — but despite occasional rumors, no revival seems to be on the horizon.


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Text ©2001-09 Donald D. Markstein. Art © Marvel Comics.